Rape was the choice form of torture for female detainees – My exclusive by Raïssa Robles
In 1999, my editor at South China Morning Post asked me to do a first person account to show the vileness of the Marcos conjugal dictatorship.
This was soon after then Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Francis Garchitorena denied a motion to release US$150 million from the Marcoses’ frozen loot in Switzerland in order to pay damages to the human rights victims of the Marcos regime.
And so I decided to interview Loretta Ann Rosales – a political activist championing teachers’ rights who had suddenly found herself a congresswoman at age 60.
I first began interviewing her during the dying days of Martial Law but I never asked her personal stuff.
What she told me during my interview in 1999 shocked me to the very core.
Today I read on the ABS-CBN news website an interview with Rosales who said Vice President Jejomar Binay’s recommendation to bury Marcos with full military honors shocked her.
Rosales was quoted as saying that burying the dictator in Ilocos was “a beautiful gesture” but accompanying that with full military honors was “an insult to the people who fought hard to end dictatorship and to be able to restore democracy.”
He actually corrupted the military. The problems that we have with the military now date back to the time of Marcos when he had to corrupt them in order to get their loyalty. Not only that. Isn’t it a fact that he was a plunderer? He stole the wealth of the nation. And now we give him full military honors? Is that honorable?
The report described Rosales as “a Martial Law victim herself.” That description was such an understatement, I thought. I remembered what she told me in that interview 12 years ago. I wondered where I had filed away my story.
And as Imelda Marcos is fond of saying, it must be part of the Divine Plan that I even managed to find the story written 12 years ago, buried deep in the mountain of documents and other bits and pieces of paper I had accumulated as a reporter.
I did not ask Rosales’ permission nor did I tell her I was posting on my website what she had told me 12 years ago.
Among the tens of thousands of Marcos’ human rights victims, Rosales was probably one of the lucky few who experienced a kind of closure on her personal nightmare. Rosales was able to confront her chief torturer before he died.
I am sharing this now with the younger generation who still think Martial Law was great and Marcos was a great man who deserves to be honored a hero:
Tortured martial law victim
now works with torturer
Raissa Robles in Manila – For Congresswoman Loretta-Ann Rosales, the torture and repeated rape she suffered in the hands of the military 23 years ago remains vivid in her mind.
But she told South China Morning Post she no longer bears any grudge against her torturers. In fact she works closely with one of them in Congress.
“He was very sheepish when I told him – the last time I saw you was in the (military) safe-house when I was tortured,” Ms Rosales said of her colleague, Congressman Rodolfo Aguinaldo.
“He told me, `I was fighting the wrong enemy (then)’,” she said.
Mr Aguinaldo later joined the Reform the Armed Forces Movement or RAM which tried to oust two presidents – Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino. The coup against Mr Marcos was overtaken by the EDSA people power revolt and the coups against Mrs Aquino all failed.
Ms Rosales, 60, was arrested twice. The first was for possessing Mao Tse-Tung’s red book. The second was for fighting the dictatorship. [NOTE: She is now in her early 70s.]
The second time around was sheer torture: “They tried to make me speak by burning me, pouring what felt like hot wax from a burning candle on my arms and legs.”
“When that didn’t work, they tore off my clothes, pressed the barrel of a gun against my temple and played Russian roulette.”
“I didn’t budge. I knew they wouldn’t kill me because they couldn’t get any information from me if I was dead.”
Then they tried strangling her with a belt, and suffocating her with a wet cloth – “I thought that was stupid…how did they expect me to speak?”
She pretended to faint and was electrocuted.
“Then they abused me…about five or six men inside the room.”
But she was certain that Mr Aguinaldo, who “removed my blindfold afterward, didn’t touch me”.
Though her experience probably wrecked her marriage, she said it did not sour her against the military establishment.
“But I strongly come out against certain military policies such as the use of torture.”